Why everyone needs a foam roller!
What is Fascia?
- Fascia is a layer of connective tissue that surrounds the outer surface of muscles , individual muscle fibres, vessels, nerves and organs binding them together
- Fascia connects our skin to our muscles and our muscles to each other forming chains that help to redistribute stress throughout the body
- The connection between the muscles and fascia is the myofascial system
Why treat the fascia?
- For various reasons including inactivity, repetitive motion, injuries and poor posture the fascia and underlying muscles can become stuck together of bind causing ‘knots’ or trigger points. This restricts movement, decreases flexibility, causes muscles to fire improperly during exercise and causes pain.
How does self myofascial release (SMR) with foam rolling work?
- It increases range of motion and decreases pain by sending information to the brain to enhance muscle activation and relaxation via the nerves and therefore breaking down adhesions. The elastic fibres are also directly manipulated from a knotted position into a straight position which is the correct orientation for the fibres
- Tension is released via stimulation of the golgi tendon organ(GTO) (the nerve receptor where the muscle and tendon meet). When excited the GTO causes the muscle to relax
Benefits of foam rolling
- Increased blood flow / circulation and therefore improved vitality
- Allows muscle relax and to fire efficiently
- Reduces pain
- Assists injury prevention
- Acts as an indicator of when muscles are tightening even though you may not feel pain with activity
- Alternative to a massage
- Reduce cellulite
How to use the foam roller
- Identify the problem area
- Hold on the tender spot for 30-60 sec or until the discomfort decreases by 50-75%
- Roll over the whole muscle looking for other tender spots
- Roll the entire length of the muscle to stimulate the GTO
- Remember muscles are 3 dimensional so you may need to roll in multiple directions
- Do not roll on 1 area for longer than 1-2 minutes.
- If there are no tender spots you can you long sweeping rolls over the long muscles such as the hamstrings
- Start with gentle pressure and gradually increase as your tolerance allows
- Stay on soft tissue and avoid bones, joints and tendons
- Also roll the areas above and below the problem area
- You should expect mild to moderate discomfort when rolling but NOT pain especially sharp pain
- While rolling focus on your breath: in through the nose for 4 sec and out through the nose for 6 sec. The longer exhalation helps to activate the para-sympathetic nervous system which allows the body to relax. You must not hold your breath
- It is good idea to do some core exercises prior to rolling
When to use the foam roller
- Pre workout: roll quickly for 15 sec to
- Increase blood flow
- Optimise length / tension relationship of a muscle
- Improve movement efficiency
- Psychological ramp up for activity
- Post workout: roll slowly for 30 sec to
- Flush the tissue,
- Create elasticity of the tissue,
- Begin recovery process
- Any time for the benefits already discussed, primarily getting rid of any niggles and bringing tight muscles back toward a normal state
If you have the following conditions you shouldn’t use the foam roller or need to take care
- High blood pressure
- Varicose veins
- Taking anti-coagulant therapy